Home > Savvy female farmer takes home prestigious Australasian business award

Savvy female farmer takes home prestigious Australasian business award

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article image Mrs Jan Manson with the 2012 Rabobank Business Development Award for best project
Jan Manson from Omakau in New Zealand’s South Island has won the 2012 Rabobank Business Development Award for her project to reposition her farming operation for future expansion.

Mrs Manson was presented with the prestigious award at the Executive Development Program graduation dinner, which celebrated the latest business management thinking in agriculture. This year, 29 of Australia and New Zealand’s leading primary producers completed the Program, which is designed to equip farmers with the commercial management skills to grow and develop their business. Over 450 farmers from across Australia and New Zealand have completed the Program since it began in 1999.

The graduation dinner also marked the final program under the leadership of Dr John Morris, who has been integrally involved in the Executive Development Program since the beginning. The Rabobank Business Development Award for best project has been renamed the Dr John Morris Award to mark his contribution to the Program, with Mrs Manson the first recipient of this newly named honour.

Mrs Manson’s project focused on identifying and analysing a range of potential opportunities to grow her family business, Inverdeen Farms Ltd sustainably into the future.

Mrs Manson together with her husband Andrew own and operate 380 hectares, leasing a further 655 hectares in Central Otago. Their core business is winter grazing of around 5,000 dairy cows, which they run on fodder beet, a high yielding crop under pivot irrigation. Additionally, the farm supplies 300 service bulls to the dairy industry, as well as bull beef and beef stock finishing.

She explains that the business was at the crossroads, weighing up their options to sell the property and exit the industry or reposition themselves for future growth.

But once they decided to continue and grow the business, attending the Program was the next step to help equip them with the skills and confidence to transition their business to the next level and into the future. The Program helped her realise that their farming operation had the potential to be as successful as any other business that was represented in the classroom, but the limiting factor was their human capital.

Hearing the real-life case studies from progressive farmers, she understood that the success of the business ultimately came down to the key individuals who ran it, especially their interpersonal relationships. 

Mrs Manson said that understanding their own individual personality traits and then focusing on their respective strengths to foster beneficial working relationships have given their business the solid framework to implement their business plan.

Using the three horizon growth model, they closely analysed four potential opportunities to grow their business. While analysing the profitability and rate of equity growth of each option, they also checked how each of these matched their personal strengths and weaknesses as well as their values.

The Manson couple decided on a business strategy to sell some land, and convert the remaining area to dairy. With dairy as its core operation, the business now has the right structure and plan in place to develop and expand into the future.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple said the management project showed how Mrs Manson had applied the learnings into her own business to develop and implement her strategies, and ensure the sustainable growth of her business.

Ms Sweetapple also acknowledged the two Australian runners-up, Ash Wiese from Narrogin in Western Australia whose project focused on his developing quinoa business and Matthew Ipsen from Wareek, Victoria and his management principles for the future growth of his sheep scanning business.

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